As a strong advocate of reporting serious domestic violence, be aware of the consequences should a call to the police be made. Parents need to take domestic violence very seriously. Each parent has a duty to protect their children from risk.
Domestic violence should not occur in any relationship. Before you call the police, make sure you have tried to work with your partner to make it stop. If you call the police, it is likely someone will be arrested and put in custody. This means a lot of money for bail and for attorney fees should criminal charges be filed. Also, it is very likely the court will issue a Criminal Protective Order prohibiting you and your partner from having any contact until further order of the court. It also may include an order restricting visitation with the children. Secondly, a Child Welfare Worker (CPS) will respond. The police make an automatic referral of the domestic violence call to the Department of Social Services (CPS). Even if the police believe it is a not a legitimate call and one parent is making up allegations against the other, the California Supreme Court recently ruled Child Protection Services must be notified. CPS will respond to your home to interview you and your children if they are old enough to communicate.
CPS takes domestic violence cases very seriously. Whether criminal charges are not filed or are dismissed will not make any difference with CPS. CPS’s job is to make sure any minor children in the home are not at risk. It does not matter that the kids might not have witnessed any violence. The fact that the kids may have been visiting relatives at the time of the incident will most probably not make a difference. It doesn’t matter who did what. The fact there is domestic violence occurring is enough for CPS to visit your home. If the CPS worker is of the opinion you and your partner will be cooperative, they will ask you to sign a Safety Plan. They will outline in the plan the conditions you must agree to. Those conditions will require separation of the adults, no contact, and a restriction on visitation of the children. One parent, usually the mother, will be asked to go to Family Court and get a Restraining Order. If there is another biological parent of the children living elsewhere, they may tell you to move the kid/s to the other parent while this Safety Plan is in place. The Safety Plan will say it is only for 30 days. Don’t believe what it says on the paper. Safety Plans can be for 6 months and then extended another 6 months. (Review my prior blog: Child Welfare Service Safety Plans Can be Good, Deceptive or Deadly). If you have moved your kid/s to the parent you do not live with, then it is very likely that parent will immediately go to Family Court and request a change in custody of the children because you are engaging in domestic violence.
I frequently receive calls from parents whose kids were taken by CPS and put in foster homes because the parents had agreed to a Safety Plan but violated one or more of the terms of the plan by having contact when they should not. Petitions are filed in Juvenile Court and the court will likely order the children be removed and put in a foster home, with another parent living elsewhere, or with other family members. There are many foster parents who are fost-adopt parents. This means they are looking to adopt children through the foster parent system. If you are violating the conditions under which your children were permitted to reside with you, such as having contact with your partner against whom you reported domestic violence and were told to have no contact with, CPS will come in and request your children be removed from your custody and placed elsewhere. There are very strict time limits in Juvenile Court to show the court you can protect your kids and properly take care of them. Failure to do what you have been told will result in termination of reunification services and the adoption of your children.
Because of one parent maneuvering to gain an advantage in splitting up or one parent being afraid they are likely to be reported to CPS for bad behavior, they may concoct allegations against the other parent. I am seeing more domestic violence calls made in anger to get back at the other parent or for a contrived legal advantage in court. Please do not do this. You will not like what happens when the police and CPS respond.